You know what so many playoff series come down to? Inevitabilities. It’s inevitable that Denver’s chaotic group of misfit toys will all turn around and fire on themselves at some point. It’s inevitable that the Celtics’ age will become a non-cliche’d, genuine liability against the brand new supercomputer of the moment. It’s inevitable that the Suns’ inability to produce stops in key situations will be their downfall.
It’s also, as the Portland Trail Blazers found out tonight in their 107-88 loss to the Phoenix Suns, inevitable that the Suns offense will have a night where it just completely overwhelms you. Tonight was the night that inevitability came home to roost for the Blazers.
Check out the box score. It’s all there.
Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire didn’t have playoff career highs. But moreso than any game in this series, the pick and roll was there. They fronted, Amar’e feigned. They posted, he spun. They trapped Nash, he lobbed. And when that component opens up, you adjust. Which means somewhere, someone is open on the perimeter. Channing Frye? Jared Dudley? They were someone tonight.
Frye was due for a game like this, and lit it up. Drive and dish catch and shoots. Transition trailer. Double perimeter rotation. Open, good looks, with a Blazers team that was too busy trying to understand why it was running so hard to understand where it should be running. And with Brandon Roy looking like a guy who had knee surgery 10 days ago, the Blazers now face an elimination game in Portland.
You have to accept a game like this. It’s going to happen under the circumstances the Blazers are operating. But if they want to win this series, they’d better hope it’s the last one.
LeBron James is usually the guy handing out chasedown blocks. He’s famous for them, and has carted out his signature move in the biggest moments of his career.
He’s also not used to having his own shots blocked from behind, and certainly not by opposing point guards.
Enter Elfrid Payton.
During a play halfway through the first quarter against the Orlando Magic on Thursday, LeBron was on a drive to the hole with Elfrid trailing far behind.
Thanks to a pinch by two Magic defenders, LeBron had to try and use brute force a bit deeper in the paint than he wanted to.
That allowed Payton — running at full speed — to catch up and pin The King on the glass.
Cleveland still got the best of the Magic, as Isaiah Thomas hit a clutch free throw to win the game with 11 seconds left, 104-103.
For about as long as we can remember, Joel Embiid has famously thirsted after Rihanna on Twitter. Fans have tried to boost his standing with the singer, but it apparently that has not been enough.
In 2014, Embiid mentioned on social media that a “famous girl” — presumably Rihanna — told him to “Come back when you’re an All-Star.”
Well, today is that day.
Embiid is a starter out of the Eastern Conference, and on Thursday night he had his chance to speak to Rihanna (or whomever) via national TV on TNT.
Did Embiid decide to reach out to this famous person? Apparently he’s off it.
This is like that scene from Private Parts when Howard Stern hits No. 1 and he tells Paul Giamatti’s character to get lost.
Embiid had the chance to curve Rihanna (or whomever) and took it. Long live The Process.
NBA All-Star voting is over, and now we have the results. The starters are in, and what’s left is for us to wait until they announce the teams after they are picked in double secret ceremony.
Of course, the NBA did release the full voting results via their PR website this week, and as such there are some head scratchers. My boy Patrick Redford over at Deadspin did an excellent job rounding up some of the players who got exactly one (1) vote from other players.
The gag here is that these guys presumably voted for themselves.
Of course, what I found most interesting was actually the guys who got multiple votes from their compatriots without being All-Star caliber players.
My favorite list of player-voted non-All-Stars includes: Michael Beasley (4), Gordon Hayward (2), Boban Marjanovic (2), Jahlil Okafor (4), Quincy Acy (2), Tyler Zeller (4), T.J. McConnell (2), Elfrid Payton (2), Zaza Pachulia (3), Taj Gibson (6), Zach Randolph (5), Maurice Harkless (2), Deyonta Davis (3), Lonzo Ball (9), Mike Conley (3).
There’s a whole smattering of guys in there who either didn’t play enough, aren’t stars, are injured, or who aren’t very good.
That multiple players took time to vote for these guys really speaks to the frivolity of the NBA All-Star Game. At least outside of player contract incentives.
Bring on February!
LeBron James is one of the best passers the NBA has ever seen, but even this is too hard to believe.
During Thursday’s game between the Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron through a ridiculous behind-the-back pass that nutmegged Orlando’s Aaron Gordon.
The result of the play was a bucket for Dwyane Wade.
I mean, that’s just … insane.